Let RSS Do The Walking For You!

So with the monitor out of commission and me being too stubborn (or too lazy) to hook up an old one, I’ve momentarily moved back to the Powerbook. This has given me a chance to refine how I browse the net.

Typically what I do each session is open up all my essential bookmark folders in tabs. The groups are News, Mac News, Mac Community, Music and Music News, Music Creation, and RSS feeds. Using RSS feeds in Safari has redefined the process. I’ve got my friend’s blogs, Flickr sites, messageboards, Digg, and a bunch of other things organized in my RSS folder. Instead of going to the content to see if it’s been updated, the content comes to me. It loads faster and I can always be on top of the news. I figured that nothing could be better.

About a month ago I zeroed down the Powerbook to Panther. Safari on Panther doesn’t have RSS functionality, so I had to use something different in the meantime; a dedicated Atom/RSS reader. It’s become an essential part of surfing now. I can come home from work, open up the program, and the news comes to me. I tried NetNewsWire Lite and other parsers. I eventually settled on Vienna. It’s got a clean interface, it’s open-source, it’s simple to use, it’s free and it’s free.

It’s free. Other readers will charge for more features like a built-in browser, but that’s what we have Safari and Firefox for. I’m not convinced that NetNewsWire is worth paying for. Then again, NetNewsWire is developed by the same guy who makes Acquisition, a P2P client that continually nags you to pay for a license to use it, saying “Support people, not corporations” or something like that. Does anyone else see the irony?

Granted, Acquisition is the best.

So, basically what happens in Vienna is that all my RSS/Atom feeds are setup to refresh every half hour. If new articles are found they are automatically put into an “Unread Articles” smart folder. Then I can just scroll through the headlines. If I like something I see and want to read more, I just click on the headline in the reading pane and the article opens up BEHIND Vienna. By the time I’m finally done going through the updates, Safari is loaded with all the material I wanted to read. Sometimes (particularly blogs) the whole article is in the RSS feed, but most of the time it’s either a headline or a synopsis, probably to get you to go to the website and see their ads, as their isn’t a way to put ads into RSS feeds (yet, or maybe ever). Not a problem.

So, I’m going to bring this back over to the Powermac (and eventually add an easy to find RSS/XML link to the sidebar), although I really find it more relaxing to read the articles in a comfy chair on a laptop. I hope others that read this blog take notice of RSS more and see how the automation helps you experience more of the net, and faster.